Vertigo – a flash fiction

This week I have been to The Netherlands and whilst there climbed the tallest tower in the country. This was in the beautiful city of Utrecht, which merits a visit anyway. The climb up the church tower was terrifying. I have particular issues with the descent and dealing with over 450 spiral steps was a challenge. Nevertheless, it was worth the effort and the history of the tower and its construction was fascinating. More interesting was the fact that the man who once worked as watchman of the tower and who lived within it, decided to make a little extra cash on the side by opening a bar inside the tower. Genius.

The DomToren in Utrecht

Dom Tower Utrecht

Apart from a jaunt to Holland, I have had little time for writing recently and need to make more of an effort to get down to it. I have been working on a longer version of flash fiction piece and have also finished a short to send off to a magazine. I am determined to prove to myself that I can write a story to match their submission rules and style of writing needed. I will not be defeated on this. Well, maybe I will, but I’ll go down fighting writing.

In the meantime, take a deep breath and start climbing with me….


‘Two hundred and twenty-three, two hundred and twenty-four, two hundred and twenty-five.’

Simon paused, steadying himself against the cold stone of the spiral staircase’s outer wall. He glanced momentarily through the narrow slit of the window just below him and immediately closed his eyes against the wave of nausea it induced. His palms turned cold with fear as he tried to recall the techniques he used on phobic patients.

Bracing himself, he continued his slow ascent of the tower.

‘Brian!’ His voice sounded shaky, breathless. ‘Brian! Where are you?’

No answer. He couldn’t be that far ahead. Not possible. Not with his phobia.

‘Two Hundred and Thirty…, shit, where was I?’

Simon stopped counting and concentrated on the wall, focusing, climbing; stone-by-stone, breath-by-breath, step-by-step.

Taking the theory to the fear was a new approach and Simon’s own phobia was an ironic inconvenience. If Brian’s depression was linked to his many phobias, facing these head-on should prove successful. Even so, Simon was somewhat taken aback by his patient’s apparent eagerness to start the climb. Hadn’t he cited fear of flying amongst his many demons?

‘Brian! Are you at the top?’

The steps were constricting, twisting sharply, and gusts of damp wind stabbed at Simon’s face.

He emerged suddenly onto a narrow walkway and immediately grabbed a pillar attached to the spire, shrinking from the edge and the iron railing.

‘You took your time.’

Simon cleared his throat which had dried to a desert.

‘It’s a long way.’

‘You look terrible. Vertigo, is it?’

Simon nodded, lowering his eyes to avoid the bank of dark cloud rolling overhead.

‘Shame. I love heights.’


‘Heights. I love them.’

‘But you’re scared of flying.’

‘I never said that.’ Brian smiled. ‘So that’s why we’re here?’

‘Of course it is. To cure your phobia.’

‘You never did listen to me, did you?’


Brian turned away and put his left leg over the railing. He turned back round.

‘I said “fear of dying” you idiot.’

Simon looked on, frozen to the pillar, as Brian eased his right leg over and stood on the ledge.

‘But I think you’ve cured me of that at least. Thanks.’

copyright: flyingscribbler 2010

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